The boat tragedy at Thekkady points to failure to follow basic safety norms while carrying tourists through a deep reservoir.

Though Commissions had enquired into the Kumarakom and Thattekkad boat tragedies and submitted many recommendations to prevent accidents, most of them had not been acted upon.

Former Ports Director P. K. R. Nair told The Hindu here on Wednesday that possibility of a design defect in the boat that met with the accident could not be ruled out. The boat would have toppled because the centre of gravity of the boat was higher. The problem could have been accentuated by the passengers moving to one side on a boat with a second deck.

Captain Nair said that qualified personnel were lacking in the office of the inspector of boats to check the boats. As a result, survey and inspection were wanting. The personnel manning boats operating in the inland waters lacked proper training.

He said that wearing of safety jackets were a norm followed in other countries while travelling in boats. If the government had the will, this was a norm that could have been enforced easily. Now light jackets, convenient to the passengers, were available.

The Justice Narayana Kurup Commission, which enquired into the Kumarakom boat tragedy, had recommended appointment of a safety commissioner for inspection of boats. But the government did not act on it.

The government has also been sitting on proposal to establish system for prevention of disasters and their management. Hardly, any quick response system existed at Thekkady for disaster management, though it is a place visited by many tourists.

“The Ministers concerned should get competent persons to prepare disaster management plans and implement them,” Mr. Nair said.

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